Thursday, August 2, 2012

Interview with debut author Justin Ordoñez

Today's guest is debut novelist Justin Ordoñez. He's doing a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for his novel, Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year.

Along with the interview, there's a $50 Amazon gift card up for grabs at the end of the tour to one randomly drawn commentor. If you want to be entered to win, leave your e-mail address with your comment below. And, you can increase your chances of winning by leaving comments on other tour stops. (Feel free to leave a comment without your e-mail, too!)

Justin Ordoñez was born in Spain, raised in the mid-west, and currently lives in Seattle. He's thirty years old, almost graduated from the University of Washington, and prefers to wait until TV shows come out on DVD so he can watch them in one-shot while playing iPad games. Sykosa is his debut novel.

Welcome, Justin. Please tell us about your current release.
Sure, this is my favorite blurb about the book:

Sykosa (that's "sy"-as-in-"my" ko-sa) is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the life of her friends. This process is complicated by her best friend, Niko, a hyper-ambitious, type-A personality who has started to war with other girls for social supremacy of their school, a prestigious preparatory academy in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. To compensate, Sykosa has decided to fall in love with her new boyfriend, Tom, who was involved in the act of violence. Propelled by survivor guilt, an anxiety disorder, and her hunger for Tom and his charms, Sykosa attends a weekend-long, unchaperoned party at Niko's posh vacation cottage, where she will finally confront Niko on their friendship, her indecision about her friends and their involvement in the act of violence, and she will make the biggest decision of her life—whether or not she wants to lose her virginity to Tom.

What inspired you to write this book?
A mixture of things. This was a book that really came together oddly. One of the first versions originated when I was in high school. I was struck one day by this character named “Sykosa.” At the time, I knew I wasn’t the writer I needed to be to handle this character, so I sort of let her sit in the back of my head. It wasn’t long before an English teacher asked me to come up with one goal for improvement as a writer, then pursue it for a quarter. My goal? To write women better, sort of trying to put myself on a path towards Sykosa. The challenge stuck with me long beyond that quarter. Over the years, I started writing Sykosa in some shorter stories, then in just snippets of dialogue, and in various unfinished stages of the book. As you can see, there was no light bulb moment of inspiration, just a lot of smaller moments as the time went by.

She knows her parents are debating any number of topics. Maybe they want to talk to her about sex. Or what love is really like. Or, if they feel bold, they want to explain how life, unlike what they’ve presented thus far, is a cold and lonely place, and they’re a tad worried she’s learned this too soon. Possibly they want to get really specific. They want to tell her how sometimes bad things happen and, yes, it brings people together, but it can also create attachments that, while not bad, are not by such automatically positive. And they fear this has happened to her, and that this boy, Tom, who seemed like an alright guy when he picked her up, may be inadvertently, and by no fault of his own, prolonging her pain and intensifying her suffering.

None of it gets said.

They think: She’s only sixteen. Kids don’t feel things that serious, and I’m projecting my emotions on her. I shouldn’t put these thoughts in her head. Besides, other than the occasional second, she seems happy, and okay with life, so let her be a kid and…

The problem’s I’m no “kid.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on Part II for Sykosa. I’m hoping it’ll be easier to write than Part I, but knowing the kind of things I expect from myself, that might be easier said than done. We’ll see, I’m trying to have fun with it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Hm, I’m not sure I currently think of myself as a writer. Even if people ask me what I do, or what my hobbies are, I don’t self-identify as a “writer.” I simply state, “I write.” I use the verb. I’m not sure I understand what a writer is, lol. It feels like 20 or 30 different jobs. But, I did realize pretty young that I was interested in these 20 or 30 different jobs, as young as elementary school.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write as a full time job, or as a means of employment, but I do some aspect of it for at least five or six hours in my day. It monopolizes my free time, without a doubt. When I’m not writing, I’m usually working out, as I like to get my body moving, or I’m playing a game or two on my iPad or iPhone. I might be taking a nap!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write throughout the day. A lot of people write just in the morning, or they set aside three hours and that’s what they do. I just write throughout the day. I’ll stop doing this or that and knock out a few hundred words, then stop and do something else, then knock out a few hundred more words. If I’m super focused, I can do those stretches where you write or eight or nine hours straight, but a lot of times, I pad my time in between writing with other work or errands or exercise.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer, but that’s lame to say for this interview. I also wanted to be Peter Jennings or Dan Marino. I actually used to dress up in my Sunday clothes and I’d carry my Dad’s old briefcase to the recliner. I’d kneel on my knees, put my papers on the cushion and stare into the recliner like it was a TV camera and deliver the news. I also had wild fantasies of being an NFL quarterback, but I never had the athletic talent to even pretend that was a possibility. It was something I always knew would never happen.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would! I have a blog,, and I’m paying much more attention to it. I’m putting up old guest posts and I’m adding funny pictures with captions and things. I’m trying to make it a far cooler, funner place. Please stop by and take a look!

You can also find Sykosa, the novel on Amazon. Feel free to connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, too. 

Excellent, thanks, Justin. 

Readers, don't forget about the giveaway! A $50 Amazon gift card is going to go to one randomly drawn commentor on this virtual book tour. If you want to be entered to win, leave your e-mail address with your comment. And, you can increase your chances of winning by leaving comments on other tour stops


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Justin today

MomJane said...

Your story sounds really good. It is rare for a male to write a great story about a female heroine, but it sounds as though you have captured the essence of the young lady.

Charity Parkerson said...

I love that you wanted to be Dan Marino. Ah, the big dreams of childhood.

Anonymous said...

I like that concept of "I write" as a verb, rather than being a writer. Good luck with the release!


Rebecca Hipworth said...

Sounds like a very different kind of book. :)


Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great book.

Justin Ordonez said...

Thanks all! Sorry to be slow in responded! Got stuck in the hospital for a day or so, but NO EXCUSES!! lol, ;)

I hope you all choose to give Sykosa a chance and see for yourself if I managed to pull it up!

I'm glad someone sympathized with me wanting to be Dan Marino!

Veronika said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read the book and I'm glad you're working on the second book already.
verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com